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Before Damien Chazelle knew how to read, he was drafting storyboards. “He would draw these amazing pictures,” his mother, Celia Chazelle, recalls of the director’s early childhood. “I could read him stories for hours — he just swallowed hook, line and sinker any story I read to him — and then he’d draw pictures and bring them to me, and I’d write down [the story] for him.” Those pictures — some on display here — were so “incredible,” she says, Chazelle got his own elementary school exhibition in first grade.
Like many artists, he wasn’t much of an athlete. Chazelle, his parents say, was an introvert, allergic to the outdoors. “It was our job to try to convince him to go out and play ball and do some sports,” remembers his father, Bernard Chazelle. “Our task was to drag him away from indoors.”
At that, they failed miserably, especially once Damien learned how to use the family VCR. “I was trying to find some way of getting him to sit down and be quiet, so I rented him Cinderella, and he watched it 10 times straight,” Celia says. “I mean, he just kept rewinding it. And then, when he was finished, he said, ‘I want to make a movie.’ And he never deviated from that. He got really interested in jazz in high school, but he never got distracted from his career path of making films.”
This story first appeared in the Aug. 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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